Reaching out to Indians from England; leading a transcontinental online Mindfulness for Health course Rohini Vijaygopal is an accredited Breathworks Teacher; she has a background in working in pharmaceutical and educational sectors, and has been involved in teaching and research at several universities in India and the UK. She is teaching the next Mindfulness for Health Online course - you can find out more and book your place now. Growing up in India, I was introduced to yoga, meditation and sound from a young age. Having personally experienced the benefits of these practices, I have sustained this passion throughout my life alongside whatever else I have pursued. Moving to England two decades ago and continuing with my ‘curiosity’ journey towards anything that is ‘well-being’ related, brought me to attending a Breathworks course here in the UK. Two weeks into the course, I knew for sure I wanted to teach Breathworks. Such was my enthusiasm that before I knew it, having completed all the necessary training I was accredited with Breathworks and I am delivering mindfulness (smiling with gratitude as I write this!). By this point, my enthusiasm had become so infectious that many of my friends and contacts in India were curious about mindfulness and wanted me to teach them, but distance was a problem. They shared a preference for synchronous learning, where they could interact throughout the course, rather than independent learning. Also, some people in the UK who wanted to experience my teaching face-to-face had travel constraints, preventing them from accessing the course. This led me to ponder – ‘could I go to them rather than them coming to me?’ I feel alive when I am teaching. It has been a no brainer for me to draw upon my years of experience in online teaching of academic courses to help me reach people wanting to learn meditation but for whom distance is an issue. Having truly understood the power of technology and using my transferrable skills in this area, I went about adapting the course material for online delivery, including making material amenable for screen sharing as well as sharing of media with sound. Six participants enrolled within just a week! I accommodated people from India and the UK, deciding what would be an appropriate time to start to be feasible at both ends. It got finalised for 7am in the morning, UK time, on Sundays, not really a time that I am usually awake on a weekend. I was thrilled to explore this way of delivering, but initially there were some butterflies in my stomach, worrying whether this would work out within the meditation sphere. It was a perfect time for me to use my own practice to aid my nerves and it worked! Sitting in my meditation room in England, I was teaching a group spread across two cities in India and some here in the UK. I soon noticed my participants did not pay attention to the fact that the medium of instruction was virtual; their focus was simply on the meditation process. The sessions were no different to face-to-face sessions - it had all the benefits yet it was accessible to those sitting 8,000 miles away. The added bonus came in the form of happy Sundays after an early start. Millions in India live with chronic pain and illness and could benefit from the Mindfulness for Health course and the radical shift that can come about in how one experiences physical, mental and emotional pain. Although invisible illnesses have started to be recognised in the West, this recognition is barely emergent in India. Online, we can reach out to people in distant locations where we lack a physical presence. India is of special interest to me because of my own background. I also understand that Indians place a huge amount of value in collective learning. Synchronous online delivery of mindfulness can also benefit sufferers of chronic pain and illness within the UK, who struggle to leave their homes. Feedback I have received has been very encouraging. One participant summarised she had never realised ‘feelings could travel virtually.’ Another said, ‘I learnt so much during the eight weeks and Rohini supported a lot when faced with difficult emotions.’ A Consultant Gynaecologist, one of the people in the group, mentioned that ‘Rohini’s delivery was simple, yet it made a marked difference to my state of mind’ - she said her patients could definitely benefit by doing this course. I now deliver regular online drop-in sessions for participants and the group is growing by the day. Enthused by knowing that it is indeed possible to do a successful online delivery with a population who are at a distance and for those who find it difficult to travel, I have already started delivering yet another transcontinental course. I am delighted to be able to make some difference to the lives of people who otherwise would have been difficult to reach, and grateful to my participants who have been happy to accompany me in my curiosity and exploration. Rohini Vijaygopal The Breathworks teacher training programme aims to prepare trainees to deliver the Breathworks Mindfulness for Health and Mindfulness for Stress 8-week courses in a traditional face-to-face group mode. For accredited teachers who have significant experience of e-learning delivery, it is acceptable for them to offer synchronous small-scale online teaching using a close adaptation of the 8-week Breathworks courses, for example via Skype or Zoom. Accredited teachers may not, however, set up a Breathworks course on a website or VLE, or deliver it in asychronous modes using applications such as VoiceThread, Facebook etc.